Health insurance exchange
6:13 pm
Tue January 10, 2012

Mo. Governor's authority challenged in health insurance exchange bill

A State Senate committee heard testimony today on legislation designed to block Governor Jay Nixon (D) from creating a health insurance exchange.

The proposed exchange is part of the national health care law signed by President Obama nearly two years ago.  All states are required to have an online exchange where customers can buy health coverage, and any state that doesn’t have one by the year 2014 will have one created for them by Washington.  The bill sponsored by State Senator Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph) would block the Governor and any agency under his authority from creating an exchange by executive order.

“He’s empowered (the Missouri Health Insurance Pool) to apply for a grant, taken steps to create an exchange, in fact, they even passed a resolution that said they will form an exchange," Schaaf told the Senate Committee on Small Business, Insurance and Industry.  "(It) shouldn’t be allowed to happen; this is the purview of the legislature, not the Governor.”

If passed, the bill would bypass the Governor’s office and go directly before Missouri voters, just as Proposition C did in 2010.

Allen Ladage is a retired United Methodist pastor who spoke against the bill on behalf of the groups Missouri Interfaith Impact and Missouri Health Care for All.

"(The bill) limits the ability of our agencies within our state to improve the way in which they could provide services for the people, whatever is then decided at a later time," Ladage said.

No action was taken on the bill today.